Entries by Posted by Linda Rink (58)

Tuesday
May052015

EANC signs letter to President Obama from the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America

The Honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We are a group of organizations united in the firm belief that the stakes for the United States, and the larger democratic world, could not be higher in the ongoing aggression by the Russian Federation and its proxies against Ukraine’s territorial integrity and right to chart its own destiny.

 We know you agree. Last month, for example, you laudably declared: "The 21st century cannot have us stand idle and simply allow the borders of Europe to be redrawn at the barrel of the gun.”

Yet the tragic reality is that, despite the determined diplomatic, economic, and other efforts of the United States and European Union to change the Kremlin’s policy, the annexation of Crimea continues, the destabilization in eastern Ukraine persists, and Ukrainian lives are being lost to the violence inspired, if not instigated, by the Russian Federation.

This is a tragedy of immense proportions. Ominously, it threatens to get still worse, both for Ukraine and other countries in the region that fear Moscow’s long shadow and willingness to interfere in their domestic affairs.

Mr. President, we must prevail in defending the rights of Ukraine and other nations in the region to live free of unwanted outside involvement, to protect their sovereignty and independence, and to be able to choose their friends. They pose no danger to anyone, yet the danger to these nations is ever so real, as we have chillingly witnessed in Ukraine.

We urge you to consider additional measures to demonstrate our nation’s unstinting support for Ukraine, including the provision of further financial assistance, lethal defensive military equipment to allow the people of Ukraine to better protect themselves, and heightened bilateral and multilateral sanctions against Russia to raise the price for its unjustifiable behavior. In doing so, you will have our full support and, we believe, the vast majority of the American people, who do not want to see such menacing behavior against a democratic nation continue.

It would be our earnest hope to have the opportunity to meet with you, Mr. President, to discuss this grave situation in greater detail, and to see how we might best be able to help our country achieve these worthy aims.

Respectfully,

Tamara Olexy, President,  Ukrainian Congress Committee of America                                

David Harris, Executive Director,  American Jewish Committee

Frank J. Spula, President, Polish American Congress

Marju Rink-Abel, President, Estonian American National Council 

Sigina Simkus, President ,  Lithuanian American Community, Inc.                                    

Mamuka Tsereteli, President, Georgian Association in the United States 

Max Teleki, President, Hungarian American Coalition

Anna Surmacova, Belarusan-American Association

Bryan Ardouny, Executive Director Armenian Assembly of America                      

Juraj Slavik, Washington, D.C. Director,  Czechoslovak National Council of America

Karl Altau, Managing Director,  Joint Baltic American National Committee                        

Ken Bombara, Representative, Slovak League of America

Saulius Kuprys, President, Lithuanian American Council

Wednesday
Nov262014

U.S. troops to remain in Baltics, Poland next year

VILNIUS (Reuters) - The United States will keep troops in Poland and the Baltic states for at least the next year as tensions with Russia remain, the commander of U.S. land forces in Europe said on Sunday.
Several hundred U.S. troops were deployed in Poland and the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia earlier this year after Russia seized Ukraine's Crimea region in March. The deployment was part of Washington's efforts to reassure the nervous eastern European allies that NATO would offer protection from any Russian threat.
Originally planned until the end of this year, the "persistent presence" mission of overlapping units on rotation is going to continue, Lieutenant-General Frederick Ben Hodges, Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe told reporters in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.
"We have planned rotations out through next year. Units are designated that will continue to do this", Hodges said.
"There are going to be U.S. Army forces here in Lithuania, as well as Estonia and Latvia and Poland for as long as is required to deter Russian aggression and to assure our allies," he said.
All three Baltic states used to be part of the Soviet Union.
Permanent stationing of U.S. and other units in the Baltics and Poland remains off the table, in part due to concerns this would breach a 1997 Russia-NATO agreement.
(Reporting by Andrius Systas; Editing by Johan Ahlander and Stephen Powell)
Saturday
Nov152014

Write to Your Congressperson!

Raise your voice!  Sample letter text is supplied by Matti Prima:

 Dear Congressman/woman: 

Congratulations on your recent electoral victory.  (personalize the letter in this section). 

I’m writing to draw your attention to HR 5241, introduced in the House earlier this year by Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11) and co-sponsored by Chabot (OH-1), Moran, (VA-8), Kinzinger (IL-16) Ribble (WI-8) et al.  It’s called the Crimea Annexation Non-Recognition Act, and it would prohibit the U.S. government from recognizing Russian sovereignty over Crimea.
               
Personally, I think this bill is important beyond its narrow scope.  I worry that until somebody draws the line in front of Putin and shows strength and commitment, this man will run roughshod over any part of the world that he covets – possibly even reassembling parts of the old USSR under his current regime.  
(If they are not already on the Baltic Caucus, see link, please ask them to kindly consider becoming part of this Caucus). 

I hope you will lend your support to this important bill and to its companion in the Senate.
Sincerely,

 

 

Sunday
Oct192014

White House FACT SHEET: U.S. Support and Reassurance Initiatives for the Baltics and Central Europe

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

FACT SHEET: U.S. Support and Reassurance Initiatives for the Baltics and Central Europe

For more than two decades, the United States has worked together with its Baltic and Central European Allies to advance our common defense and security goals in support of a Europe whole, free, and at peace. The United States has taken action, both bilaterally and through NATO, to reassure Allies of our solemn commitment to their security and territorial integrity and to show how seriously we take our NATO Article 5 collective defense obligations. A persistent, rotational U.S. air, land, and sea presence in the region is a necessary and appropriate show of support to Allies who are now deeply concerned by Russia’s military intervention in Crimea and its efforts to destabilize Ukraine. 

The United States stands by its Allies, as they have stood by us – our Baltic and Central European Allies have contributed robustly and bravely to Alliance operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere.  We look forward to discussing how to further enhance reassurance, readiness and deterrence at the September 4-5 NATO Summit in Wales, and will continue to take actions that increase the capability, readiness, and responsiveness of NATO forces.  That is why the President has called on Congress to support a European Reassurance Initiative of up to $1 billion, which will enable us in the next year to undertake measures to:

  • Increase U.S. military presence in Europe;
  • Conduct additional bilateral and multilateral exercises and training with Allies and partners;
  • Improve infrastructure to allow for greater responsiveness;
  • Enhance prepositioning of U.S. equipment in Europe;
  • Intensify efforts to build partner capacity for new NATO Allies and other partners;
  • Strengthen the capacity of non-NATO partners.

New U.S. Measures

  • Land Force Deployments:  In April, approximately 600 paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade deployed for training rotations in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to enhance ongoing military-to-military relationships and demonstrate assurance of America's commitment to its NATO Allies.  These exercises are part of a series of expanded American land force training activities with European partners that are scheduled to take place over the next few months and beyond.

United States Ongoing / Steady State Measures

  • U.S. Force Presence:  There are approximately 67,000 service members in Europe.  Approximately 57,000 active duty service members are assigned to U.S. European Command, and approximately 10,000 support other organizations, such as U.S. Africa Command.
  • NATO Response Force (NRF) Commitment:  The United States has pledged several thousand service members to the NRF, including a brigade combat team from the Texas-based 1st Cavalry Division, a hospital ship, air-to-air refueling tankers, and escort ships.
  • Army Rotational Forces:  The United States sends a battalion-sized unit from the United States to Europe twice a year for up to two months per rotation.  One of these battalions recently participated in NRF exercise ROCHAMBEAU in France and is currently participating in U.S. European Command-hosted multinational exercise COMBINED RESOLVE II.  Additionally, elements of the unit participated in NATO Exercise STEADFAST JAZZ this past November.
  • U.S. National Guard Partnership: Since 1993 U.S. National Guard forces have partnered with their counterparts in the Baltic states, an initiative that has since expanded and now includes programs across almost all of Eastern Europe.  We attach great value to these enduring partnerships, which have enhanced mutual understanding between our forces and improved our ability to operate together in the field. 
  • Exercises in the Baltic Sea:  The United States sent U.S. Marines from the Black Sea Rotational Force to the Baltics this April to participate in exercise SUMMER SHIELD.  U.S. forces participated in exercises NAMEJS and FLAMING SWORD in Latvia and Lithuania, respectively, in May and participated in multilateral exercises BALTOPS and SABER STRIKE in the Baltic region in June.  The United States deployed 18 F-16CJs and one KC-135 tanker to Łask Air Base, Poland, concurrent with the SABER STRIKE and BALTOPS exercise.  BALTOPS is an annual, multinational maritime exercise focusing on interoperability, maritime security, and cooperation among Baltic Sea regional partners.  SABER STRIKE is an annual, multinational ground and air exercise focused on enhancing interoperability among U.S. Army units and the land forces of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

NATO Measures

  • New Exercises:  NATO launched a large-scale exercise, STEADFAST JAVELIN 1, in Estonia on May 16, which tested Allied forces on their ability to work together as well as maintaining NATO’s readiness and combat effectiveness.  The exercise reflects NATO’s strong commitment to collective defense in the Baltic region.  Around 6,000 troops from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States participated in the eight day exercise.  Many participants were already in Estonia taking part in the annual Estonian-led KEVADTORM14 exercise that began on May 5 and that was merged into the NATO-led event.  From September 3-9, troops from the United States, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Canada, and Italy will conduct a series of exercises in multiple locations in all three Baltic countries as part of the STEADFAST JAVELIN series of exercises.  
  • AWACS:  On March 10, the North Atlantic Council approved establishing AWACS orbits over Poland and Romania to enhance NATO’s situational awareness of activities in the region and to reassure NATO Allies.  These aircraft will only fly over NATO territory and will come from the NATO fleet and Allied contributions.
  • Standing Naval Forces:  In late April, NATO activated Standing NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group One and sent it to patrol the Baltic Sea.  The group, which consists of six ships from Belgium, Estonia, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, and Poland, is conducting port visits and participated in an annual mine clearance operation (NATO naval exercise OPEN SPIRIT 2014).  On May 12, NATO tasked its augmented Standing NATO Maritime Group One to perform maritime assurance measures alongside counter-terrorism patrols in the eastern Mediterranean.  The group includes five ships from Canada, Germany, Norway, Turkey, and the United States.
  • Revised Planning:  NATO is reviewing its plans and posture and is developing a Readiness Action Plan that includes a review of joint exercises, threat assessments, intelligence-sharing arrangements, early-warning procedures, and crisis response planning.  Allied leaders will discuss the Readiness Action Plan at the Wales Summit.
  • Support to Ukraine:  At NATO’s Foreign Ministerial in April, Allies agreed upon a number of measures to strengthen NATO’s partnership with Ukraine and support democratic reforms.  Measures included an increased engagement with the Ukrainian civilian and military leadership.  President Obama along with other Allied leaders will meet with Ukraine’s President Poroshenko during a formal session of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at the Wales Summit to discuss further enhancing the NATO-Ukraine partnership.
Monday
Sep082014

EANC letter to President Obama 9/1/14

ESTONIAN AMERICAN NATIONAL COUNCIL, INC. / EESTI RAHVUSKOMITEE ÜHENDRIIKIDES

Office of the President
9814 Hill Streeet, Kensington, MD 20895
September 1, 2014

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Estonian Americans applaud your upcoming visit to Estonia and hope that it signifies not only symbolic, but increased tangible U.S. support to the Baltic countries, Poland, and of course, Ukraine.

The protection that comes with being a NATO member is vital to its newest partners, and U.S. involvement and support in demonstrating this support is welcome and necessary. We were pleased to hear that the White House has reaffirmed its commitment to the security of all NATO members. The establishment of permanent NATO bases in the Baltic countries and Poland would provide further significant deterrence to Russian aggression in their region. In view of Russia’s actions, NATO should consider any previous agreements with Russia regarding NATO bases to be null and void. Only a convincing display of U.S. and NATO power will cause Russia to refrain from further acts of aggression.

Additionally, if Ukraine loses this war started by Russia because Europe and the U.S. refuse to supply Ukraine with adequate military weapons, equipment, and aid, Vladimir Putin will likely see his way clear to continue on with other military conquests, irregardless of additional economic and other sanctions the West
might impose. The tactic of diplomacy combined providing only non-lethal military aid to Ukraine for fear of antagonizing Putin is not working. We urge you to support Ukraine in this war with all needed military assistance!

Finally, we urge you to convince France to stop the sale of the Mistral warships to Russia. The upcoming NATO summit provides the opportunity for creative solutions to this issue, including the purchase of the warships by NATO, or providing economic recompense to France in some other way.

We look forward to your remarks in Estonia, and to a forceful and decisive US presence at the NATO summit in Wales.

With best wishes,
Marju Rink-Abel
President, Estonian American National Council, Inc.
cc: Secretary of State
Secretary of Defense